Nigerian Dwarf Dairy Goats

for people who love the littlest dairy goats

Bought the kids July 2015. Bred Mira January, first travel and goat-sitters March, babies June, learned how to milk, sold babies August, started playing with chevre and cheddar, built cheese press, rigged a sort of cheese cave, expanded goat yard, added more play structures for the goats...

...and I keep putting off the eternal question from Willow, "Can I keep another doe next year?" I keep waiting for the proverbial bloom to fall. I waited to see if she'd get tired of the constant mucking, building projects, hoof trimming, and getting up earlier than ever now that she's started public school and still has to do the morning chores. She hasn't neglected her duties and still loves her "kids" very much (although she's terribly grateful when I let her sleep in once a week). The final hurdle will be seeing how it feels to milk through the winter before and after school. This week we'll experience a few single-digit mornings, coinciding with high school finals week. I guess if she can get through the winter with her love of goat ownership intact, there's nothing preventing me from gleefully saying "Yes!"

It was a mercy that Mira had twin boys for her first kidding. If she'd had a doe, we probably would have caved and kept it before the real trial period was over, before waiting to see what kind of milker Mira is, and before rationally thinking about the capacity of the small barn we built for the original pair...before really seeing if we wanted to keep on keeping goats. Instead, I've been able to focus my meager free time on learning to make a few cheeses and improving the habitat the goats occupy, while just envisioning my life once my 15-year-old begins college. If she goes far, do I want to keep on keeping goats...without a fellow parent? (My husband is wonderful and has his talents, but animal care is not one of them.) Ultimately, agreeing to let Willow keep more goats is accepting my future role as the primary caretaker.

These are my musings from the last year and a half. I love the goats so much--and I love Mira's cheese so much--that I'm pretty sure we'll keep on keeping on. I'm really hoping for a doeling out of Mira next year, but mostly because I'm such a sucker for babies. However, I definitely wouldn't complain about someday never having to buy cheese any more, either.

Now I'll just need a bigger cave...

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Comment by Naomi D'Andrea on December 16, 2016 at 6:58am

Julieanne, it really does make me feel good about her work ethic--like if she can work hard and be resourceful, job security seems to feel like less of a worry. :)

I'm happy to share what I've done with the cheese so far, but I stick with my original wording "rigged." I got prematurely excited about making cheddar, without thinking ahead about aging and without any budget. So, trying for an environment like 50-55 degrees in a basement that has stayed a pretty constant 65, I drilled ventilation holes in a large broken cooler, put the cheese on a baker's cooling rack so it's off the plastic surface, and keep a bowl of cold water inside for cooling and humidity (adding a little ice every day or two when it's time to turn the cheese). Completely inefficient, and the temp fluctuates a good bit, and I have not even bought a humidistat to see what the moisture level is yet. So yeah, rigged. I won't know if it's any good until we start sampling the cheese next summer. I'll keep you updated. But the nice news is, if you want to learn cheddar without the aging, make curds! They are delicious!

Deborah, lol. That boyfriend sounds serious. Are you about to enter a new phase of life soon? :)

Comment by Deborah Niemann-Boehle on December 15, 2016 at 9:27pm

Been there, done that! But I had two daughters that fell in love with goats, and they grew the herd to 21 goats before they left me! The good news is that my husband, who is NOT an animal person, learned to make cheese, and because he did not want to give up his cheese, he learned to milk the goats and has taken up the slack since our daughters grew up and moved away.

Although they are in different states now, they have amazingly found boyfriends who want to homestead. In fact, one jokes that he wants a pig and a goat as a dowry to marry our daughter. LOL

Comment by Julieanne Cook on December 12, 2016 at 8:12am

Wow girl, I'm tired just from reading that! lol It sounds like Willow has found something that really works for her because it is unusual for a teenager to stick with an interest that long unless they love it. You must be so proud of how well she's done with your goats.

I haven't mastered any other cheese beyond chevre, mostly because I can't figure out where/how to age the cheese. Do you mind sharing how you did it?

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Yogurt Maker

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